New Cabinet Minister Privately Lobbies Boles on Housebuilding in Her Constituancy

Telegraph

A newly-appointed Cabinet minister has privately protested to David Cameron about plans to build thousands of homes on the English countryside.

Nicky Morgan, the new Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women who was promoted in last week’s reshuffle, told Mr Cameron that plans to build 9,000 homes were causing “great concern” to her constituents and could overwhelm local schools and roads.

It suggests senior Tories fear they could be punished by rural voters at the next election, after moves to water-down planning regulations provoked anger.

Mrs Morgan has said she supports the government’s reforms to the planning system, which Mr Cameron hopes will lead to tens of thousands more homes being built.

However, voters in Mrs Morgan’s Loughborough constituency have been alarmed by large housing schemes proposed by Charnwood Council, including a 500-property development near the village of Shepshed and 3,000 homes near Garendon Park, a country estate.

Mrs Morgan, who in a year’s time will be defending a 3,700 majority, relayed their concerns in private meetings with David Cameron, Nick Boles, the planning minister, and Steve Quartermain, the Chief Planner who is the Whitehall official in charge of boosting house building.

Writing on her personal website in November 2013, Mrs Morgan said she had “continued to raise concerns about local planning at the highest levels of Government.”

“Concerns about planning and inappropriate/too much development is one of the most common concerns local residents talk to me about.

“This week I discussed these concerns with both the Prime Minister and the Planning Minister. I made it clear that while people often accept the need to build more affordable housing and also housing for older residents, developers must listen to the views of local residents and consider the pressure on local infrastructure such as roads and schools.”

The comments were among a series of news entries on Mrs Morgan’s website that been deleted at some point in the last month.

However, an impression of the page has been retained by Google, meaning they are still visible.

Planning reforms under the National Planning Policy Framework have been stiffly resisted by rural campaigners who say they put the countryside at risk by weakening the ability of locals to block developments.

A Treasury source said: “Ministers are constituency MPs. It’s compatible to support government policy and represent concerns on behalf of constituents.”

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